Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Summer Ham & Orzo Soup

When I think of smoked ham hocks, I think of rich meaty stews, pies topped with golden pastry, spoons digging into steaming dishes and inducing food comas immediately afterwards. In this current muggy weather it's not an appealing thought. The freezer needed clearing out for yet more ice cream though, and the ham hock was taking up precious space, so I had to think on my feet.

Ham hocks are really the gift that keep on giving. Tender meat shreds well off the bone and the poaching liquid is beautifully meaty. As it simmered away merrily filling up the flat with smells akin to bacon, I decided to make the most of the richly flavoured broth and came up with this soup. With a few vegetables simmered in it, the flavours were clean and summery, enlivened with the addition of a spoonful of basil, parsley and Pecorino puree, turning my bowl into an algae-green.

And I've still got some ham hock left to make a pie. A summery pie.

Summer Ham & Orzo Soup

Serves 2 with leftovers

1 smoked ham hock - soak overnight in water, to remove some saltiness.
2 bay leaves
3 sticks of celery
4 black peppercorns
2 onions

Cover the ham hock with water and add the above; simmer on a very low heat for 2 hours. Remove the hock; discard the skin and fat, the flesh should just flop off the bone. Strain the stock and skim off the fat.

100gr orzo, cooked separately
1 courgette, cut into batons
1 carrot, diced
1 plum tomato, skinned, seeded and diced

Warm up the stock and add the carrot. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the courgette, simmering for a further 10 mins. Take off the heat and add the orzo and the tomato to warm through. Add a quenelle of the herb puree (below) to finish.

A large handful of basil
Half that of parsley
A squeeze of lemon
A clove of garlic
A handful of grated Pecorino, or Parmesan

Whizz the above in a blender until nicely emulsified.


arbaggs said...

This looks excellent. My last battle with a ham hock was while making Rick Steins ham hock terrine. Fair to say it was terrible.

Oliver said...

This looks amazing! I haven't cooked hocks for ages but they are so cheap. I love pasta in soup.

Anonymous said...

Where do you get your ham hocks from? I've asked a couple of the butchers in my area to get some in and they tell me they aren't available.

Lizzie said...

Anon - I got mine in Ginger Pig, Borough Market.

asmallscoop said...

Looks so tasty, thanks for sharing! Bookmarked for future experimentation :)

Su-Lin said...

What a summer it's been...one that requires soup! I wonder if an already cooked ham hock would produce good soup?

Leigh said...

that does look GOOOOOD. Ham Hock's a great piece of meat, and does so well in soups like this. Thumbs up!